If you are pregnant, one thing that is always at the back of your mind is labor. I know the feeling, it was constantly on the back of my mind when I was pregnant. You might just be like me and are already reading up too many books or blogs, checking out other people’s stories on youtube, and listening to old wives’ tales to make sure you have straightforward labor.
Now, one thing I know is that too much information can be overwhelming. My first advice is that the best information is one gotten from a professional. However, if you are African, Malawian to be specific, you know damn well that your aunties and gogos will have something to say. They will share with you advice on things to do and not to do.
The most major one will be sharing with you the things you are to be doing during your pregnancy to ease up labor. Now, I am no expert and will not say that these things are false. Especially since I had a c-section and never experienced natural birthing.
I still wanted to share 9 ways to ease labor from the advice I got from my own aunties. I do not know how true some of them are. And please, do not do them without getting approval from your midwife to be on the safe side of things.
9 ways to ease labor according to the aunties
1. Eat Okra, Everyday
I cannot tell you how much I was reminded of this every day. Every elderly woman I met told me to make sure that I was incorporating okra in my meals. Fortunately, I would naturally crave it. I got so bad that I would eat it three times a day. And yes, I was eating nsima three times a day.
Okra is believed to benefit pregnant women. The belief is that it eases up the labor and hastens delivery. From the explanations I had, the slipperiness of the okra will also make your vagina slippery when the delivery time rolls up. Women will tell you that the baby just shoots right out into the world.
2. Sweet Potato Leaves
In Malawi, the leaves are called kholowa. Old wives’ tales say that boiling these leaves and drinking the water will lessen the labor pain and also fasten delivery. Aunties will tell you to drink the water from the beginning of your second trimester till you deliver.
3. Mpungabwi for Positioning
Mpungabwi is a local basil that is used for different things. I personally use it to treat my migraines by steaming my face. Others use it as a mosquito repellant or to remove smell from their surrounding. Imagine my shock when I heard that drinking its water would help position the baby head down during the last trimester.
I was also advised that it could also ease up labor pains when the time came. I will not lie, I got creeped out and never tried it.
4. Hot Porridge
I do not understand the maths with this, but old Malawian women swear on it. Tale has it that drinking hot porridge while in labor will fasten it and the delivery. Now, laugh with me for what I am about to say next, they say that the heat from the porridge makes the baby escape the womb faster.
After I was told this, I did enquire from my midwife and I was told they advice pregnant women who are in active labor to havetea or hot porridge for strength purposes when it’s time to push.
This is not something only Malawian women swear by, it is global. Having sex during the last trimester is said to induce labor. In Malawian words, “chimatsegula njira.” Also ladies, hormones be going crazy and have you wanting sex almost all the time.
So, have enough of it.
6. Sleeping Child
OLd women do not like a pregnant woman just lazing about and sleeping. They love to see you up and active, which is something I understand. However, it a whole different reason from what you might have read from the pregnancy books you might have been browsing through.
According to them, when a lady sleeps so much during pregnancy, the baby tends to sleep too. Therefore, when labor starts, the baby could take long to come out because it’s inside sleeping. In these terms, those that have undergone long hours in labor had babies who were taking their last naps lol.
Now, we all know exercising when pregnant is essential to making sure your body is ready for labor. My aunt used to make me climb a hill three times a day, she would time me too. If I dared finished after the set time, I would get an earful.
Sometimes, she would climb it with me just to pace me.
8. Shut Your Mouth
This was very important and they made sure to emphasise it each time. Make sure to shut your mouth, especially to those that make you angry. Reason you may ask, WITCHCRAFT. They believe that some people deliberately make a pregnant woman angry so that they can tamper with their expected day of delivery through black magic.
They encourage you to not reiterate if anyone tries to make you angry. In fact, they advice you to smile more even when in pain.
They also ask you to shut up during labor, even when the pains are hitting the high roof. They say that if you talk, you use a lot of air which could be used to push the baby out.
9. Pineapples and Papaya
The deal with these fruits is weird, aunties will tell you to stay away from pineapples during your first and second trimester. When you are close to your delivery, they will advice you to have it more to make sure labor starts and it’s fast.
Pineapples fruits are known to get your bowels moving and word has it that it also affects the uterus. How true this is, I do not know. All I know is I tried it to induce my own labor and it did not work.
I used to love hearing some of these old wives’ tales when I was pregnant. Share some of the advice you got when you were pregnant, or now that you are pregnant. Share in the comment section below.